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Edward Leung Tin-kei released after six years in prison

Edward Leung Tin-kei, a former spokesman for Hong Kong Indigenous, was freed from prison after serving four years for his role in the 2016 clashes in Mong Kok . Karmen Li and Jayde Cheung documented Leung’s route to “freedom” and recapped his story before jail.

Society

Cancellation of Chinese New Year fairs leave farmers at a loss

Flower farmers and florists are left with thousands of unsold plants after the government cancelled all Lunar New Year fairs last Friday because of the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant. It’s the second year in a row that the annual flower markets are scrapped because of the pandemic. The fairs are some of the biggest events in the run up to Chinese New Year in Hong Kong. Flower markets are usually held in public parks such as Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and in Mong Kok. “The flower businesses usually experience a seasonal boom during festive occasions, when particularly auspicious flowers and plants, such as orchids and tangerine trees are sold,” said Samuel Ng, owner of Green House Nursery, a garden centre in Sai Kung. "When Chinese New Year approaches, some businesses would order at least 50 tangerine trees, but not for the past two years. These will have to be thrown out now," Ng said. His plants are imported from Guangzhou in mainland China. But bringing the plants to Hong Kong, he said, is increasingly difficult because they have to be disinfected and transferred between delivery trucks multiple times. Customers are often concerned whether the plants would wilt, and that puts pressure on the vendors to make sure their goods look fresh. Tung, who only wanted to give his family name, works in another flower shop in Sai Kung. He sources flowers from a wholesaler who purchases goods from Japan, mainland China, South America, Africa and Europe. These supply chains have been affected by transport delays and travel restrictions, resulting in the goods having to be refrigerated for weeks or even thrown away. "I haven't had a day off for 21 months. My wife and I are working 11 hours everyday to make up for the financial loss. …

Society

Hong Kong to kill thousands of hamsters after COVID-19 outbreak

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Lokman Yuen、KOO Chi Tung 顧知桐Edited by: Tracy Leung、Malick Gai
  • 2022-01-19

Hong Kong authorities will cull some 2,000 small rodents after hamsters in a pet shop tested preliminary positive for the Delta variant of COVID-19, the first to be discovered in a natural environment. Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Leung Siu-fai announced in a press conference on Tuesday that pet shops selling hamsters were required to temporarily suspend their businesses and handover the rodents to the department for euthanasia after testing, regardless of the result. He also “strongly advised” pet owners who had bought a hamster in Hong Kong from Dec. 22 to turn them over. The announcement was made amid concerns over animal to human transmission, after 11 hamsters at Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay, tested preliminary positive for the virus. Environmental samples obtained from its Tai Po warehouse, which housed the imported hamsters from the Netherlands, also tested positive. “Although there was no evidence internationally to prove animals can spread COVID-19 to humans, but for the sake of prudence, we will implement preventive measures on every possible route of transmission,” Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said.  The virus was detected after a 23-year-old pet shop worker and a 67-year-old woman who visited the venue on Jan. 8 were infected. University of Hong Kong microbiologist and government advisor Yuen Kwok-yung told the reporters in the evening that it was essential to make such a decision and praised the judgment as “decisive and wise.” “I use this species in the laboratory for experiments every day, which are very sensitive towards the virus and are easily infected,” he said. He also said the hamsters will spread out a lot of viruses in the first 10 days, which means a long time for transmission.  Yeung Lin-hing, who owns one of the 34 affected pet stores, said he …

Society

Two Jabs Required To Enter HKU

Students and staff from the University of Hong Kong are required to have two jabs in order to access campus starting from Monday.  According to an internal email sent to students and staff, anyone who wishes to enter the campus will need either to be fully vaccinated or to take weekly self-tests. The same measure will also be applicable to HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPACE) premises throughout Hong Kong. No exemption is available. All HKU staff and students need to register their COVID-19 status via HKU portal or the HKU COVID-19 Control App. They will be allowed into campus after presenting their HKU ID cards to card readers installed at the entrances of HKU.  People who choose to self-test will need to upload their records on a weekly basis. Presentation of original copies, photocopies, or screenshots of vaccination records and self-test records to security guards are also acceptable.  Visitors will need to scan the QR code at the entrance to show that they have complied with the COVID-19 control measures before being granted access to the campus. Tam Siu-yee, a Year 3 HKU Science student majoring in Speech and Hearing Science said that the new measure does not really affect her since she has already been fully vaccinated. “I have been out in the clinic being in contact with patients since last semester so I have been vaccinated for a while,” Tam said.  Although the measure does not affect her, she disagrees with the implementation. She thinks the new measure does not respect students’ personal wishes and the right to be on campus. Tam doubted the effectiveness of the two available vaccines in Hong Kong on combating Omicron and “doesn’t see the point for mandatory vaccination for COVID-19 control on campus.” Eight universities in Hong Kong have …

Society

COVID-19 quarantine and travel restrictions challenge Hong Kong’s domestic helpers

Ybañez’s 68-year old mother, living in Cebu City in the Philippines, was hospitalized for high blood pressure and diabetes for two months before her death. Ybañez, 40, who has been working in Hong Kong for almost three years, would have to quarantine in both the Philippines and upon return in Hong Kong for five weeks in total.  Employers of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong are required to pay for one trip home for each helper every two years. In response to the pandemic, the Immigration Department mandates that prospective employers sign the undertaking of the employer document agreeing to pay for their employees’ Covid tests and all quarantine expenses upon entry to Hong Kong.  “My employer couldn't afford it," said Ybañez. "Even if I had gone, they could only wait for one week before burial and I had to do two weeks of quarantine in the Philippines, so it was impossible to see her.” Low availability of flights and quarantine hotel rooms, travel bans and vaccination requirements have made travel in and out of the city challenging for foreign domestic helpers.  In April, Hong Kong banned flights from the Philippines, and in June this year another flight ban extended to Indonesia, significantly impacting the wait time for inbound employees. Both these bans were lifted in August.  In September, the government opened Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre on Lantau Island to helpers who are fully vaccinated with non-Hong Kong available vaccinations for 21 days quarantine, allocating nearly 800 rooms with a price capped at HK$500 per night. Helpers vaccinated with either Pfizer/BioNTech or Sinovac can also quarantine in hotels upon their arrival.  The pandemic has doubled the number of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong seeking help from local NGO Mission For Migrant Workers this year, the NGO said. More than …

Society

Tai Hang Sai Estate: elderly’s struggle under redevelopment

Today, Pun Git-fong, 90, doesn't take a nap with the TV on like usual. Instead, on this cloudy afternoon, she puts on her old blouse, closes the door and starts an arduous five-minute journey down the stairs from the fifth floor to the ground floor. Her neighbours are waiting for her. They are about to rally. More than 30 residents of Tai Hang Sai Estate, Hong Kong's last private housing estate for low-income families, are protesting a redevelopment plan that has been in the works for more than six years. The residents, many of whom have lived here for decades, say both the developer and the government are ignoring their needs and failing to communicate transparently.  Residents want to be given a place to live during the redevelopment, which is expected to last five years. Currently, they’ve been told they need to find their own housing. The crowd, mostly seniors, chants: "One house for one house; relocation needs common agreement. We only want to enjoy the old age; we don't want to drift from place to place." "Don't toss about the elderly; government helps placement,” they shouted. Established in 1965, Tai Hang Sai Estate offered shelter to tenants who lost their homes during the 1953 Christmas day fire in  Shek Kip Mei. The fire, which destroyed the entire estate and caused 3 deaths and 51 injured, brought the issue of safe public housing policy to light.  However, Tai Hang Sai Estate is not qualified as one. The British Hong Kong government offered a discount to developer Hong Kong Housing Corporation Limited (HKHCL) to buy the land for estate construction in 1961, which classified the site into private property.  "Either Hong Kong Housing Authority or any other Hong Kong authorities could manage the estate," says 64-year-old Tam Kwok-kiu, the former District …

Society

Hong Kong Health Code for travel to mainland launches next week along with update for LeaveHomeSafe; city still waiting for quarantine-free travel

The government said the new health code app compatible with Guangdong and Macau to facilitate travel to the mainland will be available at 9am on Dec 10, though it has not yet announced when quarantine-free travel will begin. “The government is still negotiating with the mainland authorities but said it had come to the final stage after the visit of mainland experts to Hong Kong,” Alfred Sit Wing-hang, the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, said in a press conference today. The government said it will also provide an update for the LeaveHomeSafe app, which allows users to transfer visiting records to the mainland-compatible Hong Kong Health Code app. The app will be launched as a “pilot run” before quarantine-free travel starts with no need to rush, said Sit. Users will need to provide personal information, such as their address and HKID card number, and upload the visiting record from LeaveHomeSafe. The authorities said 31 days of record will be uploaded, but only the past 21 days of record will be used to generate the code required for border crossings. Users whose records do not show visits to high-risk places and are not close contacts or household contacts of close contacts of confirmed cases in the past 21 days will get a green code. For those who have no plan to travel to the mainland, Sit said they do not need to update their LeaveHomeSafe app. “The government has no plan, and did not see the need for real-name registration for the LeaveHomeSafe App,” Sit added. Li Yan-yi, 27, said she will not use the Hong Kong Health Code app. “I have no plan to go to the mainland, and have tons of privacy concerns for the app,” said Li. “When the government launched the app, they said it is all …

Society

Sinovac jabs for 12-17 year olds start today

From 9 am this morning, people aged between 12 and 17 years old can book for a Sinovac Covid vaccine through the Centre for Health Protection website. They need to bring along their identity documents, consent form signed by their parents or guardians and present the SMS message or the photocopy of booking confirmation at government vaccination centres. They can also get the vaccination through schools,, from private doctors or clinics, Community Vaccination Centres and the Student Health Services Centres of the Department of Health.   Secondary student, Clayton Chan who was vaccinated today said he was only doing so because of a swimming competition. “I will not receive the Sinovac vaccination unless there is a strong reason such as participating in an overseas competition as I am afraid of the side effects of the vaccination such as fever and the swelling of the injection site,” Clayton said. His mother, Carrie Chan, was willing to let her son get Sinovac because she too has had the jab.  “I only had mild side effects such as being tired and having a headache after receiving the Sinovac vaccination”, said Ms. Chan. She  believed Sinovac will be safe for those aged 3-17 years because many teenagers  were among more than 100 million people who got vaccinated in mainland China and there is no major safety concern. “It shows that there has been sufficient scientific research to prove its safety and protection,” Ms. Chan said. “It is expected that after the launch of the Sinovac vaccination, the vaccination rate among secondary school students will be increased to over 80%, which will help the secondary schools to resume full time face-to-face lessons,” said Professor Lau Yu-lung, chairman of the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases in an RTHK programme on Nov. 20.  Schools can resume full-day …

Society

HK Government tightens quarantine requirements for nine countries with Covid-19 Omicron variant cases, including Australia and Canada

Hong Kong added nine countries with Omicron cases, including Australia and Canada, to the city’s high-risk group starting Wednesday over fears of the heavily mutated Covid-19 variant.  Under the tightened requirements, only Hong Kong residents who are fully-vaccinated and hold a recognised vaccination record can enter the city from countries in the high-risk group, which already includes the United States. Arrivals have to undergo a 21-day quarantine in a designated hotel instead of 14 days. Alice Chan Lai-sim, 66, a retiree who has lived in Sydney for 26 years, said she and her husband canceled their plans to return to Hong Kong to visit her relatives during the Christmas holidays due to the new arrangement.  “Though I have had two shots of AstraZeneca in Sydney before, I still have to quarantine in a designated hotel for 21 days and conduct six tests during quarantine in Hong Kong,” she said.  Her husband, Duncan Ip Wai-kwong, 69, who works in the IT industry, said they are also uncertain about the spread of Omicron in the city.  Hong Kong confirmed three imported Omicron cases discovered in arrivals during hotel quarantine.  “There are fewer Omicron cases in Hong Kong compared to New South Wales. However, Hong Kong still shows potential danger to travellers like us as most of the Omicron cases found in Hong Kong quarantine hotels that we have to stay in,” Ip said.  New South Wales, where Chan and Ip live, has recorded five Omicron cases.  On Sunday, the World Health Organization designated Omicron a “variant of concern” days after it was first reported from South Africa on Nov. 24.  There is little information on the heavily mutated variant, as the world waits to see if current vaccines will hold up. "Hong Kong's very stringent system of boarding, quarantine and also testing …

Society

Secretary for Education denounces "lying flat" trend, emphasizes values education

Secretary for Education, Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, denounced the “lying flat” trend, the attitude of doing nothing popular among young people in the mainland, and highlighted the importance of values education in Hong Kong schools in an online post yesterday The “lying flat” movement started in April when a post on the Chinese popular website Baidu titled “Lying Flat Is Justice” went viral. It  refers to young people who strive for nothing more than what is essential for survival.  “The recent trend of "lying flat" is even more worrying. A negative life attitude can easily cause depression and hinder social development in the long run,” Yueng wrote in his post. “I am grieved for that, just the same feeling as many parents and teachers who love those kids.” Yeung also said the government will soon release the curriculum framework for the recently proposed values education, which includes moral and ethical education, civic education, and national education.   The education bureau said promoting activities related to Chinese history will allow students to learn about the essence of Chinese culture, absorb traditional wisdom, and cultivate moral sentiment.  “We must work together to promote values ​​education rooted in Chinese culture together and support students to build positive thinking,” the online article said.                                       “I think the new curriculum has a political agenda and I hope the teachers could be professional enough to tackle this,” said Lau, a local high school teacher who said he is responsible for executing the values education curriculum at his school. He requested anonymity over concerns about his work.  In June, Yeung told the Legislative Council that the bureau will send teachers to mainland universities to enhance their understanding of the nation's development. Teachers will also attend training courses related to national affairs, the Basic Law and the National Security Law.  The …